Ravi Riverfront City to Twin Islands Control; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

06 February 2022

Supreme Court allows Ravi Riverfront Urban Development

The Supreme Court suspended this week the Jan 25 order of Lahore High Court (LHC), which had declared several provisions of the Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) Act 2020 as unconstitutional. The order came on a petition on behalf of the Punjab government, assailing the above order. Last week in a video message, Prime Minister Imran Khan hinting to appeal in Supreme Court against the January 25 order said the project was not about establishing housing societies, but rather creating a new, planned city on the model of Islamabad. Infocus already mentioned that in its last Weekly Briefs.

In the recent order the two judge Supreme Court consisting of Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi restrained the Ruda and other allied agencies from undertaking any work on the ground beyond lands that had already been acquired, possession taken and compensation paid. Similarly, on the question of planning and approval of the project, the Environment Protection Agencyand other agencies have been restrained from proceeding any further and have been asked to furnish their reports before the Supreme Court.

Later a Ruda spokesperson reveals the Authority has sufficient land to resume work on the first phase of the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project in the light of permission granted by the Supreme Court. According to him the Authority has purchased 5,000 acres through cash payment while the owners of around 25,000 to 30,000 acre picked up forms to sell their land to the authority. He also told 15,000 to 16,000 acres were the state land already awarded to the authority and they would have to start the first phase of Sapphire Bay on it soon.

Besides, the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Business has approved investment in Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) industrial zones. The decision allows Ruda to enter into an agreement with a Saudi investor for investment in industrial zones 2A and 3A under the Ruda.

War over Twin Islands Control

The tussle over the ownership of Bundal and Buddo islands between Sindh and federal governments took a new turn when the provincial cabinet declared them as `protected forests` and the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) served the provincial government with a legal notice asking it to refrain from changing the status of the two islands. The controversy over the ownership of the two islands triggered after the federal government had promulgated an ordinance for the construction of a new city on Bundal and Buddo.

The Sindh cabinet approved a summary after deliberations, directing the provincial forest department to notify the two islands as protected forests. The move came following a Jan 31 legal notice of the PQA, served on the provincial government for handing over ownership of Bundal and Buddo islands to the provincial forest department, as both the island fell under ownership of the PQA.

DHA and Clifton Cantonment issued Notice for Commercialization of Seaview

The Sindh High Court during this week issued notices to the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), Defence Housing Authority (DHA), environment secretary and others on a petition filed against alleged commercialisation of the Seaview beach. Residents of Clifton and DHA along with organization “Shehri” filed the petition before the SHC stating that an environmental tribunal has set aside the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) approval accorded by the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) to the proposed commercialisation of the seafront from Nishan-i-Pakistan Park to Village Restaurant (Now Clock Tower) in Phase-V of DHA.

The petitioners pleaded to declare Seaview from Nishan-i-Pakistan Park to Clock Tower as an open natural beach free from all artificial modifications, development and constructions. While in the hearing, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi remarked that it would not benefit the people of Karachi if the entire coastline was commercialized.

Drop in Cement Sales

The local cement sales dropped 16 per cent year-on-year to 3.4 million tons followed by a 21% fall in exports to 551,006 tons in January. All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) spokesman said that slowdown in the construction activities for public sector development projects amid unfavourable weather conditions is one of the key causes of lower domestic consumption of cement.

The spokesman also said that one of the main reasons for low exports via sea is the shortage of containers while an increase in demand for containers has resulted in rising freight cost of containers from $500 to $1,500, making the Pakistani cement uncompetitive in the international market.

KPK Govt allocates funds for Environment

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has allocated Rs 239 million to address environment-related issues in the province, including Rs7 0 million to purchase mobile air quality monitoring stations for Peshawar. The Provincial Development Working Party has approved a PC-1 to this effect towards the end of last year.

In addition, the KP’ EPA and provincial environment department have also proposed several measures to combat high concentration of particulate matter (PM 2.5), which according to a recent report, was all-time high in the provincial capital. Officials said the transport department had been given task to control the emissions from ill-tuned diesel and petrol vehicles.

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